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Winter Quick Reviews (John Wick, Horrible Bosses 2, Penguins of Madagascar)

Here are a few quick reviews. Better late than never…

Keanu Reeves stars as a former mob assassin who gives up his dangerous lifestyle when he falls in love. Before an illness claims her life, his wife leaves him with an adorable puppy to help him mourn. But, after a Russian mobster’s son (Alfie Allen) kills the dog and steals his car out of spite, John Wick is forced to come out of retirement. With the help of a secret hotel for assassins (run by Ian McShane) and an old friend (Willem Dafoe), he embarks on one last vengeful rampage against the Russian (why is it always Russians?) organization that used to employ him.

Yes, the plot is as B-Movie as you can get, but director Chad Stahelski knows what he has. If you enjoyed Denzel Washington’s Equalizer, you’ll enjoy this one even more. John Wick delivers its cartoonishly thin plot with vigorous, frenetic action and a comic book sleakness that makes it fun from beginning to end. Even stoic Keanu Reeves is right in his element, delivering just enough of the necessary emotion to make the titular character one we root for.


I guess… if it isn’t broke, you shouldn’t fix it. Horrible Bosses 2 carries this concept almost as much as Hangover 2 did… and just as much to a fault. Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day return as the group of friends who tried to murder their bosses in the previous film. This time around, after they are hustled out of their invention and left for broke by a sleazy billionaire (Christoph Waltz) they concoct the ludicrous idea of kidnapping his spoiled, manic son (Chris Pine). Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Spacey return in smaller roles while Jamie Foxx also returns as “Motherfucker” Jones… probably the only consistently funny character.

It isn’t that Horrible Bosses 2 isn’t funny, because it is. But it isn’t nearly as funny as the first one, which in itself wasn’t too memorable. The antics go from laugh out loud hysterical to flat out moronic and stale. Sometimes the characters’ stupidity is so over the top that it makes it impossible to believe they’d succeed at any task, let alone a felony. Nevertheless, there are far more unwatchable comedies out there. If you liked the first, you’ll at least find this one watchable.


I was never a big fan of the Madagascar movies. In fact, I want to punch anyone who plays or sings that stupid “Move it, move it” song. But I can admit that the most watchable thing about any of the movies were the four penguins who carried themselves like an animal A-team. Brainy Kowalski, muted maniac Rico, leader Skipper, and young Private return for their own adventure that pits them against a league of secret agent animals known as the North Wind (Bendedict Cumberbatch, Ken Jeong, Annet Mahendru, and Peter Stormare) in a race to save penguins across the world.

The story and animation are just as frenzied as they are in the Madagascar movies, but the humor is much more sophisticated. Kids may enjoy the slapstick gags but many of the jokes will be good enough to make even the most straight laced adults chuckle. The villain, Dave (voiced by John Malkovich) also manages to provide enough humorous moments to move an otherwise forgettable story that is best suited for a an episode of the TV show. The four penguins themselves all get there moments to shine, and are all likable all on screen (which is more than I can say for the leads of Madagascar) so in the end, the movie is a fun flick worth watching if you’re into animated adventures.


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